|Effects of smoking seen in twins
||Twins who smoked had more changes to the middle and lower thirds of their faces.
|Patient in 'vegetative state' not just aware, but paying attention, study suggests
||A patient in a seemingly vegetative state, unable to move or speak, showed signs of attentive awareness that had not been detected before, a new study reveals.
|Robert Farr obituary
||It was as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Michigan and former Leinster scrum-half that our father, Robert Farr, an Ulsterman, tried to teach American students to play rugby. Although he didn't quite succeed in this respect, he did in so many others.Rob, who has died aged 77, spent nearly 20 years as professor of social psychology at the London School of Economics. Born in Belfast, he completed his first degree and his master's at university there and, although he toyed with the idea of ordination in the early 1960s, he realised his true calling was to psychology, both research and teaching.In the mid-1960s, during the cold war, Rob worked for two years for the RAF, authoring a number of reports into the attitudes and job satisfaction of crew serving in Bomber and Transport Command.From 1966, the year of his marriage to Ann Wood (which later ended), through to his retirement, Rob made his home in academia. He spent 13 years at University College London and a year at the í‰cole des Hautes í‰tudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.When he was 44, the family moved to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland so that Rob could become professor of psychology at Glasgow University. In 1983 we moved south again, with Rob assuming the chair at the LSE, where he remained until his retirement in 2000.It was during this time in London that Rob was at his most prodigious in terms of academic output – editing the books Social Representations (1984) and Representations of Health, Illness and Handicap (1994) with Serge Moscovici and Ivana Markova respectively. In 1996 he wrote The Roots of Modern Social Psychology, acclaimed as "the first comprehensive history of social psychology".In total he wrote more than 100 articles, chapters, reports and reviews, as well as speaking at conferences around the world, including a number in eastern Europe behind the iron curtain. On a more personal level, he supervised 21 doctorates and acted as an external examiner for more than 25 universities in the UK and Ireland as well as at Lucknow in India.Despite failing health in his later years, he still enjoyed discussing developments in academia as well as watching rugby and cricket, and was extremely pleased to be able to visit the recently dedicated Rob Farr room at the LSE.He is survived by us and his two grandchildren, Adam and Zoe; he was as proud of us as we all are of him.PsychologyHigher educationPsychologytheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
|Animal personalities are more like humans than first thought
||A study has found for the first time that, just like humans, unpredictability is also a consistent behavioral trait in the animal world.
|Seeing in the dark: Most people can see their body's movement in the absence of light
||With the help of computerized eye trackers, a new cognitive science study finds that at least 50 percent of people can see the movement of their own hand even in the absence of all light.
|Stress eaters may compensate by eating less when times are good
||When faced with stress, some people seem to lose their appetite while others reach for the nearest sweet, salty, or fatty snack. Conventional wisdom tells us that stress eaters are the ones who need to regulate their bad habits, but new research suggests that stress eaters show a dynamic pattern of eating behavior that could have benefits in non-stressful situations.
|Bernard Fox obituary
||Our father, Dr Bernard Fox, has died aged 86. He was born in the East End of London, and his own father, Michael, died when Bernard was only three. His mother, Jane, and family tried to protect him by hiding the death from him for many years. Bernard often said that this was the reason he became a pathologist: to understand death, when the death of his father, its causes and even the fact that it had happened, was kept from him for so long.For some of his childhood he lived with his grandmother, who ran a sweet shop in Islington and churned her own ice-cream. He loved eating ice-cream even when, towards the end of his life, he found the main course less appealing. He often told his grandchildren about his childhood as he took them to buy sweets.Bernard was in the first generation of his family – who had fled the pogroms in Ukraine – to go to university, in his case Charing Cross hospital medical school. He married a fellow student, the psychoanalyst Margaret Arden, in 1954; they loved country holidays, hill walking and gardening. He had a successful career as a consultant histopathologist and coroner's pathologist, and taught hundreds of students at Charing Cross.He was also a keen researcher, using the developing technology of electron microscopy to examine the impact of smoking on lungs. At one stage he collaborated with his brother-in-law, the ophthalmologist Geoffrey Arden, to explore abnormalities in cilia cells, work which was published in 1979 in Nature and led to a new understanding of the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa.Bernard was a shrewd judge of character; he sat on interview panels for would-be medical students, and used to say that within two minutes he could tell which candidates had the right makeup to become a doctor – and he was proved right by their subsequent careers.Following divorce from Margaret, in 1985 he married Jessica Geffin (nee Gold), a psychotherapist, after which he became an active member of the family therapy team at Charing Cross.On his retirement in 1993, the family moved to Hove, East Sussex, where Bernard developed a number of interests, including upholstery, learning the piano and internet bookselling. He supervised trainees in a local counselling service and was secretary of the local Jewish historical society, for which he wrote several papers. Though intensely proud of his Jewish heritage, he was not a religious man.He is survived by Jessica, us, four stepchildren and 12 grandchildren.Medical researchPsychologyHigher educationTeachingtheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
|Zombies, cognitive dissonance and you | Pete Etchells
||Pete Etchells: Would it be morally ambiguous to kill a zombie? Thinking about it before the apocalypse might mean the difference between life and death. Just make sure you're talking about the right sort of zombie.Pete Etchells
|Statement of the American Psychological Association Regarding Pedophilia and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
|How Lou Reed Normalized Deviance in Rock n' Roll
||Lou Reed was one of the first artists who showed us that rock n' roll can be about more than love songs and party music. At the age of seventeen he had electroshock therapy to cure him of his homosexual tendencies. The experience of his parents committing violence to his brain for the sake of upholding middle class values shaped his work and changed rock music forever.read more
|Too much texting can disconnect couples
||Couples shouldn't let their thumbs do the talking when it comes to serious conversations, disagreements or apologies.
|How internet affects young people at risk of self-harm, suicide
||Researchers have found internet forums provide a support network for socially isolated young people. However, they also conclude that the internet is linked to an increased risk of suicide and self-harm among vulnerable adolescents. Following what is thought to be the biggest review of existing studies into internet use and young people, the researchers suggest that in future, clinical assessments of such young people should include questions about the online content they have viewed.
|Babies can learn their first lullabies in the womb
||An infant can recognize a lullaby heard in the womb for several months after birth, potentially supporting later speech development.
|A first step in learning by imitation, baby brains respond to another's actions
||Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery for adults, but for babies it's their foremost tool for learning. Now researchers have found the first evidence revealing a key aspect of the brain processing that occurs in babies to allow this learning by observation.
|Babies remember melodies heard in womb, study suggests
||Brains of babies who heard melody before birth react more strongly to tune after birth and at four months, scientists sayNewborn babies can remember melodies played to them while they were in the womb, according to a study.Scientists found that the brains of babies who heard a specific melody just before birth reacted more strongly to the tune immediately after they were born and at four months.In the study involving 24 women in the final few months of pregnancy, half were asked to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to their foetuses for five days a week. The scientists then played the tune to the babies after they were born and measured their brain activity using electroencephalography.Their results, published in the journal PLoS One, showed that the babies who were played the song in the womb had a stronger electrical response in their brain to the song after birth, when compared with a control group of babies."Even though our earlier research indicated that foetuses could learn minor details of speech, we did not know how long they could retain the information," said Eino Partanen, at the cognitive brain research unit of the University of Helsinki. "These results show that babies are capable of learning at a very young age, and that the effects of the learning remain apparent in the brain for a long time."The difference between the two groups was only apparent when the original music was played, rather than a version with changed notes.The scientists speculate that unpleasant or noisy sounds heard in the womb might have adverse effects: "It seems plausible that the adverse pre-natal sound environment may also have long-lasting detrimental effects. Such environments may be, for example, noisy workplaces and, in the case of pre-term infants, neonatal intensive care units."ReproductionPsychologyHuman biologyPregnancyParents and parentingAlok Jhatheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
|On the Seasonality of Getting to Second Base and More
||A player who can be counted on to play better in the post-season is, therefore, one who was not playing his best during the regular season.read more
|MS study correlates negative effect of warmer weather on cognitive status
||Scientists correlated fMRI findings with the negative impact of outdoor temperature on cognitive functioning in multiple sclerosis. This study in Brain Imaging & Behavior corroborates the group's previous study that established that people with MS performed worse on cognitive tasks during warmer outdoor temperatures. This new study extends previous research by demonstrating a link between brain activity and outdoor temperature.
|Pain in infancy alters response to stress, anxiety later in life
||Early life pain alters neural circuits in the brain that regulate stress, suggesting pain experienced by infants who often do not receive analgesics while undergoing tests and treatment in neonatal intensive care may permanently alter future responses to anxiety, stress and pain in adulthood, medical researchers have discovered.
|Five Reasons Why Humans Need Halloween
Did I scare you?
No? Let’s try this: Scientists currently predict global sea levels could rise up to 1.5 meters by 2100, a process that could drown cities and trigger widespread human famine and wildlife extinction.
Scared? You should be—and hopefully that little stab of fear and dread compels you to make some lifestyle changes and influences your votes.
But I don’t want to talk about doomsday. I’m here to talk about Halloween. And my real point is that real fear does not feel good. So why are we so prone to giggling at this kind of fright-based Halloween tomfoolery?
The answer, says the research, is that we need holidays like Halloween and Dia de los Muertos because they ritualize our fears, mainly of death. “Halloween rituals turn horror into play, death into levity, gore into laughter,” says UC Berkeley psychologist (and GGSC co-founder) Dacher Keltner.
So Halloween isn’t just a way to sell candy and inappropriately sexy Halloween costumes. Here are five scientifically validated reasons for you to treat-or-treat.
1. It’s a ritual and rituals keep us together.
Think, for a moment, about how often you interact with your neighbors. If you’re the average American, you probably don’t know most of the people on your block.
If you have kids, trick-or-treating is a great way to get to know the neighbors. Even if you don’t have kids, putting a goblin out on the lawn and sitting on your stoop with a bucket of candy might enhance your block-level social capital. There are stacks of empirical studies that say this kind of social connection makes you happier, kinder, and healthier—and that these benefits can spread from person to person. As Steve Almond writes in his marvelous book Candyfreak, “There’s something incredibly liberating about a holiday that encourages children to take candy from strangers.”
The rituals of Halloween also make people pay more attention to candy, and paying attention makes candy taste better, according to one recent study. This leads us to our next item…
2. We need candy.
My nine-year-old son actually provided this as the main reason why humans need Halloween—“I need candy, Daddy!”—and my own extremely scientific survey confirms that 10 out of 10 kids like candy.
I assumed that there must be a good evolutionary reason for this—and some googling did turn up evidence to support my son’s claim. For example, an ounce of dark chocolate every day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, and chocolate has been shown to boost mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain like endorphins and serotonin.
I could cite more science, but you know what? I’d eat chocolate even if it depressed the heck out of me, and so would my son. So, on behalf of my family: Thank you, Halloween, for the treats!
3. We actually like safe, moderate levels of stress.
Most holidays contain some level of ritual—and varying degrees of stress.
Take Thanksgiving, that special time of the year when you get to sit across from your mother-in-law and hear about all the ways you weren’t fit to marry her precious child. Halloween also entails some stress, and we are often willing pay for stressors like jumping with fright in a haunted house.
Thus Thanksgiving and Halloween triggering similar shots of cortisol—but we’re talking about two very different kinds of stress, and one kind is definitely better than the other. Why would we pay for Halloween thrills and dread Thanksgiving dinner? To explain why some kinds of stress are good for you, here’s a brilliant scientist (with a scary beard):
4. We need to pretend.
This is another reason cited by my son, who this year is dressed as Finn the Human from the cartoon Adventure Time. If you must know, I will dress as his bro, Jake the Dog.
But he dresses up and pretends all year long, and I go along with him—even when his imagination takes us to dark places.
University of Oregon psychologist Marjorie Taylor has found that kids often create pretend characters who do sinister, mean, and even violent things. “Like adults who think things through before they act, this gives children an opportunity to play it through before they encounter the situation in real life,” Taylor once told me. “If something is bothering you, you can control it or manipulate it in the world of pretending. That’s a way of developing emotional mastery.”
5. Death can be fun!
We can all agree that death sucks. But I think we can also agree that if we’re going to die, we may as well eat a lot of candy before we go.
Halloween is one of many “memento mori” traditions designed to make death just a little bit more fun—and provide an age-appropriate hint to children about an inescapable fact of life, which is that life ends.
This has emotional benefits. As Oliver Burkemen notes in his essay “The Positive Power of Negative Thinking,” one study found that walking through a graveyard made people 40 percent more likely to help a stranger than walking down an ordinary block; another found that visualizing death can lead us to become more grateful for the things we have in life.
Ultimately, the playfulness of Halloween helps us to prepare for things that are genuinely scary, like climate change. Trick-or-treating is a little light exercise that builds up the emotional strength we need to face our fears.
|6 Purely Psychological Effects of Washing Your Hands
||Wash your hands, wash your mind: recover optimism, feel less guilty, less doubtful and more...â†’ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"